Los Angeles, California
Despite hurdles and constraints typical in low-cost housing projects, Flor 401 Lofts by Brian Lanet of Koning Eizenberg Architecture for the not-for-profit housing provider Skid Row Housing Trust boasts an all-encompassing, sustainable apartment building with biophilic design and optimal spatial distribution of services through multipurpose bridges in downtown L.A.
Flor 401 Lofts was completed in November 2020 for a not-for-profit housing provider.
Residents include individuals who were formally unhoused, many of whom live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.
The development offers 98 studio units and on-site services to help stabilize lives.
The project was achieved within the typical constraints of a tight budget and regulatory overlays at a cost of $31.7M.
For its all-encompassing design that considers well-being as well as sustainability, Flor 401 Lofts has recently been awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Rethinking the role of open space to optimize the everyday experience of the residents was fundamental to raising the bar to promote health, well-being, and sustainability for a population who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change and healthcare inequity.
The building’s massing captures summer breezes and minimizes west-facing glass while framing the multi-level garden that anchors daily life.
Fourteen trees were planted on-site and added to the sidewalk in spite of City pushback, and just one example of regulatory impediments to building better.
The biophilic setting improves residents’ well-being and goes further to contribute to a rarely seen green space on Skid Row.
Residents are welcomed home into a tree-canopied courtyard through a gate and trellis that unobtrusively disguises needed security.
Once in the courtyard, on-site social services are to the left, and ahead is a generous stair that leads to activity spaces on the second floor that includes a yoga room, activity spaces, and laundry.
On the top floor, a vegetable garden offers another alternative activity to promote healing and care.
Life safety egress, conventionally achieved with only hidden exit stairs, is instead achieved by substituting some stairs with cost-equivalent bridges.
The bridges also contribute to the highly visible circulation path designed to encourage informal exercise, social interaction, and contribute to passive security.
The surrounding studio apartments are modest but feature ample daylight, small kitchens, and private bathrooms.
Flor 401 Lofts is LEED Platinum certified with enhanced energy performance and reduced carbon footprint: 11.6% of the project’s annual energy is supplied by on-site renewables and a solar hot water system reduces the use of natural gas by 40%.
The building’s total energy use outperforms California code requirements by 28.4%.
In arid Los Angeles, responsible water management is also key and low flow fixtures, stormwater capture, drought-tolerant plantings, and a greywater system that reuses laundry water for irrigation minimizes water use.
Project: Flor 401 Lofts
Architects: Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc.
Lead Architect: Brian Lanet
General Contractor: Morley Builders and Benchmark Contractors, Inc.
Client: Skid Row Housing Trust
Photographers: Eric Staudenmaier and Brian Lane